— Sameer Bhide, Author of the book ‘One Fine Day’
Over the last year, the pandemic has turned our world upside down causing a lot of stress, suffering, grief, and disruption in our lives. It created total chaos and uncertainty around the world and brought about unprecedented health crises.
The current crisis in India brought on by the fatal second wave of the pandemic, the grief and despair in the surroundings is overbearing. It is hard not only for the ones infected but also for their families, friends and for the frontline workers helping them! While we are all aware about the tools and solutions for the physical wellbeing of people trapped in the midst of this pandemic, we are harshly unaware and ill-prepared for the ramifications of this pandemic on the mental health of those who survive!
Sameer Bhide, author, and survivor of a rare haemorrhagic stroke has encountered grief and loss very closely. His stroke took away much more from him than his physical wellbeing. After his stroke he had two brain surgeries, spent a month in a medically induced coma, then had to stop working and went through a divorce and was left dealing with a lot of physical and emotional pain. Just like that, his life as he knew it, was turned up-side down! Leveraging from his own experience, described in his memoir, ‘One Fine Day’, Sameer shares 5 tips that can be helpful in dealing with grief and loss. These include:
- Allow yourself time to heal: The first step to dealing with grief and loss, is acceptance. It is an immensely hard and painful task to come to terms with your grief and loss. Anger or escapism are options for many. But this only makes thing worse. Consciously accepting the fact, will help set the perspective right and thus needs to be done. Once the acceptance has come, one needs to give oneself as much time as needed to heal. No matter what anyone may say, it is perfectly okay to grieve.
- Create a routine: While the process can be all consuming and might be self-depreciating, it is important to tackle this practically. Setting up a simple but well-structured routine for the day is important to ensure that the normal well-being and functionality is maintained. Simple things like personal hygiene, regularly eating meals, completing daily mundane chores and spending time with family, can be comforting and liberating.
- Find a goal or purpose: The next important step to overcoming grief is to find a higher, selfless purpose or have a goal that can help one to look over their personal loss and be a part of something larger. Finding a collective higher purpose is one of the biggest forms of healing. From volunteering, joining a self-help group, planting trees, donating free meals, to setting up personal career or health goals and working towards them, can be huge accelerator to come to terms with one’s grief.
- Pursue Hobbies: Apart from the above, cultivating or indulging in a hobby – any form of activity that can bring joy or peace, helps tremendously in the process of transforming grief into a lighter, less empowering sadness. It could be things such as creative pursuits like music, writing, painting, or dancing – which can also help express one’s emotions, or it could be other things such as collecting stuff, gardening or indulging in sport, etc. All of these can help take the mind off the constant feeling of loss, and escape into something that is more calming and peaceful. Whatever it may be, indulging in a hobby on a daily or weekly basis can be an excellent form of handling negative emotions and grief.
- Seek professional help: Last, but not the least, seeking out the help of a professional to process the sense of sadness, loss, and inability to move on, is always the best way to go. Speaking to a psychologist can help to not only acknowledge and express one’s emotions, but also gain guidance and insights into overcoming common roadblocks and observing self-depreciating thought patterns.
Although grief and loss are an integral part of life, they are equally unforgiving and harsh on everyone who comes to bear them. The points above are practical steps which helped me to deal with some of the most intense emotions and have been effective and even life altering in many ways. In my small effort to spread hope and positivity, may these be of help to those reading it and may the pain and suffering ease for everyone.